Every year there are those key players who you draft with the expectation that they will be the mainstay, the heart and soul, the stalwarts of your fantasy team. But each year something happens to thwart those best-laid plans. Last year it was guys like Andrew Luck, DeMarco Murray, and Eddie Lacy who, due to either ineffectiveness or injury, fell short of expectations and failed to carry their fantasy teams, despite being drafted quite high.
With Week 1 in the books and Week 2 about to kickoff, let’s evaluate three players (I won’t count Dez, who I pointed out over a month ago would suffer in production this year) who, after disappointing starts, should now be traded before their value gets too low. Your fellow owners are still willing to give up quite a bit for these top-end stars — but if you wait too long hoping that they come around, you’ll miss your chance to get great value in return.
It’s not like people were blind to the possibility that AP might be on the verge of slipping out of that top tier of running backs, but many weren’t completely ready to stick a fork in him this season — understandably so. I mean, he did have a very good 2015 year — 1,485 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Peterson was arguably the most reliable, consistent runner last season.
However, Peterson is 31 years old. His upright running style makes him a big target for defenders so his body and legs have endured plenty of punishment the last 8 years. Running backs don’t often experience tons of success after surpassing the 30 year plateau — i.e. Shaun Alexander, LaDanian Tomlinson, Priest Holmes. When the great Barry Sanders turned 30, he retired so he didn’t even have to mess with it!
Peterson showed some signs at the tail end of last season that maybe age and wear and tear were beginning to take it’s toll. In 4 of his final 5 regular season games, Peterson averaged 54 yards on the ground and only once in that last month did he top 100 yards. In the Vikings lone playoff game (at home in the brutal cold) against Seattle, AP was held to 42 yards rushing in a game where you’d expect the ball to stay on the ground a lot.
All those factors should be enough right there, but to make the situation even more difficult for AP (and his fantasy owners) is that he has no offense around him. There’s no reason teams shouldn’t stack 8, 9, 10 defenders in the box with the clear and obvious objective of stopping Peterson. Who’s going to going scare defenders and make the linebackers play the pass? Shaun Hill? Who’s keeping the safeties from creeping 10 yards up to the line of scrimmage? Sam Bradford? Yeah, ok.
My advice is if you have AP, unload him now. More than one person in your league will be interested solely based on the name recognition. And what about his 19 carries for 31 yards in week 1, they’ll ask you? “It’s only one game. And Tennessee’s D is, ummm, real tough.”
The second year back out of Georgia was ultra-impressive in his rookie campaign. Exciting, explosive, fast. Gurley gave the Rams franchise hope, Rams fans hope, and in their move across the country to Los Angeles, he’s given the City of Angels hope. However, a lackluster opening week on national TV against the 49ers, who many predict to be well-below average this year, and now the panic sets in. The hope has already started to fade, and if Gurley was one of your high draft picks, you should be re-evaluating immediately.
Too early to bail on a guy who looked like a stud RB less than a year ago? Well, that depends on your definition of “bail”. Don’t cut him or anything!! And don’t trade him for, I don’t know, RG3 or Tony Romo. Seriously, though, there are some alarming factors at play here with Gurley that owners need to be aware of.
First, the Rams have no offensive line and no offense at all for that matter. Tavon Austin has great potential to be a playmaker — ok, I will give you that. But what else? Like AP’s miserable situation in Minny, Gurley has no help surrounding him in L.A. Secondly, Jared Goff will eventually be the quarterback — which is good for the Rams, but not good for fantasy owners, who want Gurley to roll up 120 and a touch every week. Furthermore, it’s not like Case Keenum will provide much help to Gurley in the meantime. Lastly, defenses will continue stuffing their entire 11 men in the box to stop Gurley, daring the Rams to throw it. Again, not good for Gurley.
Trade Gurley now and you for sure will collect a king’s ransom. He’s young and he doesn’t have the mileage on his legs like Peterson. But, for you the fantasy owner, he won’t be able to live up to your expectations as a first round selection.
Freeman started the 2015 season as Tevin Coleman’s backup. But after Coleman went down, Freeman had cemented himself in the starting role by week 3 with a 30 carry, 141-yard, 3 touchdown game over the Cowboys. He finished the year with 11 TDs and over 1,100 rushing yards.
But Freeman’s stats are a little misleading. Of his 11 scores on the ground, 6 came in back-to-back weeks — 3 and 4. He only rushed for 5 TDs in the remaining 13 weeks. In Atlanta’s 8 games after Halloween, things got downright scary for the RB — only two rushing scores to go along with 2 lost fumbles and zero 100-yard rushing games. Freeman, also, battled lasting effects from a concussion towards the end of the season.
Everyone thought entering 2016 that Freeman was the number one back for the Falcons, but also most recognized that Coleman would be featured alongside him. After week 1 saw Coleman get the majority of the looks in the air and on the ground, Freeman fantasy owners should be thinking what kind of value the Atlanta RB is worth on the trade market. My guess is he would be as valuable as he will be all year right now. Wait too long and you risk everyone realizing that he’s back to playing second fiddle to Coleman.
Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.